The Department of Natural Resources Spring Hearings will be held Monday, April 10 in every county in the state. In these hearings, stakeholders are asked many different questions that affect fish and wildlife in the state. Each attendee has the opportunity to voice his or her opinion on each issue by voting yes or no on each question on the questionnaire. Each meeting will begin at 7 p.m. The Oneida County meeting will be held at the James Williams Middle School in Rhinelander. The Vilas County meeting will be held at the St. Germain Community Center. Locations for meetings in other counties can be found on the DNR website dnr.wi.gov by searching the keywords "spring hearings." The full spring hearings questionnaire can be downloaded or viewed from their website as well. This is the final part in a five-part series regarding on the questions that will be found on the questionnaire that pertain most specifically to people in the Northwoods.
This question is in regards to online vote accessibility. There is some concern many stakeholders may not be able to attend the spring hearings meetings for any number of reasons including transportation issues, scheduling conflicts and disabilities. Some believe an online option would allow those stakeholders to participate in the hearings. Here is the question:
Would you support the WCC and the DNR working to offer an online option for the public to provide input on the questionnaire? The elections of the WCC delegates would remain in-person at each Spring Hearing location only.
This question looks to establish a new bear hunting zone. Because there are an increased number of bears moving to the southern part of the state, according to the questionnaire, and the bear in Zone C are not evenly distributed. The question from the questionnaire follows:
Would you support the creation of a new zone (Zone E) south of Highway 10?
This proposal looks to funnel more money into aquatic furbearer research by adding a surcharge to the otter permit application fee. The increase would be much the same as the increase in 2010 made to the bobcat permit application fee. That increase has allowed expanded bobcat hunting and trapping, which in turn allows the Department to make better bobcat management decisions. This increase would provide the same opportunities for otter management. Here is the question:
Do you support legislation to add a $3 surcharge on to the otter permit application fee to be used specifically for aquatic furbearer research and study?
This question is in regards to the use of cable restraints by land owners and their agents in trapping coyotes on their land. Currently cable restraints are only allowed from Dec. 1 through Feb. 15. The question reads:
Do you support a rule change that would allow the use of cable restraints by landowners and/or their agents on their land year round?
This question is also about cable restraints, asking respondents if they would approve of legalizing those restraints on private land before Dec. 1. Trapping season starts in October, but cable restraints are currently allowed only after Dec. 1 to avoid incidents with other users. Trappers have indicated that those incidents could be avoided if use of cable restraints would be legal only on private land, with land owner permission, even if allowed from the beginning of the trapping season.
The question asks:
Do you support a rule change to allow the use of cable restraints on private land only (with land owner's permission), for the entire dry land trapping season (beginning the Saturday nearest Oct. 17)?
Currently, the background in the questionnaire states, Wisconsin predator callers are only allowed to use lights at the point of kill when predator hunting. Some hunters would like to use lights earlier in order to better identify target and be more sure of their shot placement. Here is the question:
Do you support legislation which would allow predator hunters to use lights to scan prior to the kill?
Beaver dams can have both positive and negative effects on the habitat and waterways around their dams. The questionnaire states, "if properly managed, beavers can have a positive influence on sedimentation, nutrient pollution and flooding. The question asks if beaver management should be taken into consideration in all management plans. The question is as follows:
Do you support a policy which would require that beaver management (with respect to their influence on cleaner water, reduced flooding, better water filtration and better habitats for many important species) be considered within all DNR management plans?
Question 73 and 74
Both of these questions, posed by the legislative committee are in regards to reciprocity dog training privileges. Not all states allow the training of dogs to track wild animals, but Wisconsin does allow it on free-roaming animals including bear, wolf (if a season were to be established), bobcat, fox or raccoons without charging a fee. Here are the two questions posed regarding reciprocity training:
73. Do you support legislation which would authorize the establishment of a "Dog Training License" that non-residents would be required to purchase in order to train their dogs in Wisconsin for tracking/hunting the above species?
74. Would you support legislation which would authorize a reciprocity agreement to allow non-residents to train their dogs in Wisconsin if their home state allows Wisconsin residents to train dogs on the same species in that state?
This question is in regards to license fees for veterans over the age of 70. There is currently no reduced fee for a deer license for those individuals. The question reads:
Do you support legislation which would authorize a reduced archery/gun deer license fee for Wisconsin military veterans over the age of 70?
This question is in regards to funding state parks. Admission and camping fees increased for Wisconsin State parks to help offset the elimination of the state general purpose funding, which was cut in the last budget. Here is the question from the questionnaire:
Do you support legislation which would appropriate general purpose (GPR) funding to help manage the Wisconsin state park system?
This proposal is one of many that would require legislation. It asks if a person holding a Class A Disabled Hunting Permit should be able to ask for assistance in dispatching an animal he or she legally wounded. Here is the question:
Do you support legislation which would allow the assistant of a person with a Class A Hunting Permit to pursue and dispatch an animal, if legally shot, wounded and subsequently tagged by the disabled hunter.
This question is in regards to funding the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. Stewardship funds are used, according to the questionnaire, to "purchase and develop lands for hunting, fishing, trapping and recreating, lake and stream access and easements, partnerships with local governments and protecting unique parcels of land." The spring hearings question is as follows:
Do you support the Legislature continuing to fund the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund at adequate levels with wise use of the funds by the NRB and DNR?
Restructuring of conservation warden funding is at issue in this question. Currently, funding sources are not stable for training of conservation wardens.
There are also insufficient current and trainee wardens to fill the positions across the state. Here is the question posed:
Would you support the recommendation that the Wisconsin Conservation Congress work with the Department of Natural Resources to find and develop stable funding sources for present and future needs concerning the warden service?
This question would require legislation and asks if a sandhill crane hunt should be established in the state. A management plan, approved by 31 states and Canadian provinces, established the Eastern population of sandhill cranes was such that it could withstand a hunting season. The legislature would have to approve a quota-based hunting season on these cranes before the DNR could establish a season. The question from the spring hearings questionnaire reads:
Do you support legislation which would give the DNR authority to begin the process to develop a hunting season for sandhill cranes?
This proposal looks to increase the fee for the Great Lakes Trout and Salmon stamp in order to increase funding for projects in some cold water fish hatcheries. Here is the question:
Do you support legislation which would increase Great Lakes stamp fees from $10 to $15 to further support and promote cold water fisheries in Wisconsin?
These questions are in regard to the options available to the County Deer Advisory Committees (CDACs) when a CDAC is attempting to maintain or decrease the deer population in their county. Here are the four questions from the Deer and Elk Advisory Committee:
Would you support CDACs that are trying to maintain or decrease the deer population within their county having the ability to implement earn-a-buck within their county as a herd management tool (requires legislation)?
Would you support CDACs in counties that are trying to maintain or decrease the deer population within their county having the ability to establish an antlerless only season that would run from the day after the statewide 4-day December antlerless hunt and continue thru the remainder of the archery season?
Would you support CDACs that re trying to maintain or decrease the deer population within their county having the ability to implement a 16-day firearm season within their county? The season would start the same day as the statewide traditional 9-day firearm season.
Would you support an incentive program such as tax breaks, tax deductions or flat fee deductions for property owners who participate in an access program for deer hunting?
This concludes the questions posed to each attendee of the spring hearings across the state. In each county, there will also be citizen resolutions, posed by residents of a particular county, that will be asked of attendees in that county. Those citizen resolutions, if passed by the attendees of that county's spring hearings meetings, can then be sent on for further approval, possibly ending up on the next spring hearings questionnaire. Citizens are encouraged to write resolutions regarding fish and wildlife rules about which they are passionate. Full details on who to write a citizen resolution can be found in the spring hearings questionnaire.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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